Medical Conditions | Uncategorized

Phobia

Severe anxiety about a certain object or situation, despite simultaneous awareness that the anxiety is unfounded. Directed anxiety is known as fear; there is a vague dividing line between exaggerated caution and fear. If someone is afraid of walking along the top of a wall, that is normal; but if a patient will not take more than two steps up a ladder, he is afraid of heights. Many other people are afraid of spiders or mice. Phobia is a state of severe anxiety, or an obsessive concern that a spider or mouse might appear. The best-known phobias are fear of stains, often associated with compulsive washing, agoraphobia, claustrophobia and fear of heights. It may be that the object of the phobia symbolizes something important in subconscious conflicts (defence mechanism), as in children who develop school phobia through fear of being deserted by their parents. In such cases treatment is by psychotherapy to make the conflict conscious and to allow the patient to come to terms with it. Phobia can also result from a bad experience: if a child is bitten by a dog he is likely to be afraid of all dogs; in such cases behavioural therapy is often effective. Phobia usually leads to avoidance behaviour, and is self-reinforcing. The patient does not allow himself to see that he can cope with the situation. Also the fact that there is genuine fear when confronted with the feared situation is seen by the patient as proof that the situation is alarming.

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